(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)
This contribution is part of a series:-
1. Badlands (5-Jun-2014)
2. Badlands II: God of Wrath (16-Jul-2014)
| ||A knight and a demon, on a mission to save a town from an unknown danger.|
3. Badlands III: Boat on the River (3-Dec-2014)
| ||Revisiting an old love, the knight finds her missing. Only the demon can help find her - and, if possible, to rescue her from where she is.|
4. Badlands IV: The Beginning (3-Jan-2015)
| ||Something strange is happening to the world and the knight and the demon must solve the problem if they are to survive.|
5. Badlands V: The Hatching (8-Feb-2015)
| ||Where it all began - The demon, the knight and the beast meet each other for the first time.|
6. Badlands VI, VII & VIII (7-Sep-2015)
| ||About a mountain slope on a winter night, a lost girl, a meeting with an entity, and how something was created, immortal and dangerous.|
7. Badlands IX: The Mountain God (31-Jul-2016)
| ||Three new parts to the series.|
| ||An erupting volcano, a cult which lives on its slopes, and the knight, the beast and the demon must attempt a rescue mission.|
The night was completely dark when he awoke.
His chin had been resting
on his chest, and the muscles of his neck were cramped and aching, He had not
meant to sleep, but it had been far too long since the last time heíd closed
his eyes, longer than he remembered. The exhaustion was creeping up, but he
couldnít stop now.
He shook his head and
squeezed his eyes shut till lights flashed behind his eyelids, and then opened
them again. The darkness was still absolute. There was the faint noise of the
beastís hooves on the ground, but no other noise either.
He wondered how long heíd
slept, and what had been happening while heíd been sleeping.
He knew what he had to
do, and he did not want to do it. He resisted as long as he could, till he
could resist no longer.
And then he called his
demon, and his demon came to him.
"You took long enough to
call me," it said, walking by his side.
He looked at the demon
from the corner of his eye without replying. Tonight, it had chosen to look
like a woman of sorts, her naked body bright red and glowing faintly. Huge
horns sprouted above her ears and curled past her jaw, and her eyes were amber
and feral. It wasnít by any means the first time his demon had decided to
look like a woman. But at least it wasnít trying to tempt him tonight by
looking like someone he would want to sleep with.
"Well?" the demon-woman
demanded. Her tail moved, the barbed tip slapping against the flank of the
beast, but it didnít notice. "What do you want to ask?"
He thought for a moment
before he spoke. "Where are we? Am I lost?"
The demon stared at him.
"You shouldnít have fallen asleep, Man." As she flicked her flaming hair back
over her shoulders, sparks flashed from her hands and spiralled away into the
darkness. "You arenít lost. Lost doesnít even begin to
describe where you are."
"You brought me here," he
said with complete certainty. "Iím not here just by chance. You brought me
The demon didnít say
anything for a bit. Her feet and the beastís hooves hushed through the dust.
"Have you ever thought of
where youíre going?" she asked at last.
He was taken aback at the
question. "Of course. Itís all I ever think about."
"Itís been a long
journey, hasnít it?" She glanced at him under an arched eyebrow. "Do you even
remember how long itís been?"
"Of course I do. Itís..."
he stopped abruptly. He tried to remember, but couldnít. "Itís just..."
The demon was looking at
him with open amusement now. "And do you recall a timebefore the
He made no attempt to
"Well, then," she said,
"it doesnít really matter where youíre going, does it? Nothing matters except
"And you," he said.
"And me," the demon
agreed. "Now, we have another job to do."
"Another job?" He looked
at her. "What do you mean, another job?"
She rested one taloned
hand on his thigh. The nails were so sharp he felt their touch through his
"Just a little thing,"
she said. "A little matter of putting a wrong to right." She laughed, the noise
like crystals splitting. "Or a right to wrong, depending on your point of
Something screeched in
the darkness, far away. The noise was like nothing heíd ever heard.
"What was that?" he
The noise came again,
from another direction. There was no way of telling just how far away it was.
His hand instinctively went over his shoulder to touch the sword on his back.
But there was nothing to draw the sword against.
"Donít worry about it,"
the demon said, her fingers still digging into the chain mail on his thigh.
"Itís nothing you need to worry about." She smiled, her teeth like daggers.
"What you need to worry about comes later."
[ Continue to page 2 ]